Until the passage of the National Motor Vehicle and Traffic Safety Act in 1966, the issue of car safety had been largely ignored by both the government and automobile industry. This case traces the events that led to the Act's passing. Part A follows the growth of public and congressional interest in automobile safety, and introduces the principal figures involved in drafting the legislation. These include the Senate Commerce Committee, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and various automobile manufacturers. Part B traces the bill's introduction into the Senate, industry reactions, and the progression of the bill through Congress. The sequel discusses the legislation's effect on auto safety, and concludes by chronicling Nader, and his consumer advocates, through the mid-70s.
This case provides an opportunity to discuss the role of lobbyists in the American political process. From Nader's grassroots organizing, to the auto manufacturer's campaigning, this case underscores the variety of strength and scale used in lobbying efforts. This case also raises questions about lobbyists' ethical prerogatives and responsibilities. The case may be useful for courses in political and institutional analysis.